How CAN you plan for the year ahead? Business planning for 2021 that will see you through Covid

– Angela Turton 

We were certainly ready to put a line under 2020 and see what 2021 has in store.
If 2020 proved anything, it is that plans get derailed and although it may be a contradiction in terms, we still firmly believe in the power of having a plan.

Like you, we like to plan, and the start of 2020 saw us planning to expand our team, examine our strategy, and evaluate our processes. Deadlines had to change; we had to be flexible in our approach, and by the end of the year we still achieved our overarching goals for our business.

When we were planning for 2020, we could not have predicted the impact of Covid-19 and its longevity. So, as we plan for 2021, we thought we’d share a few of the tips that will see you through to the other side of Covid and beyond.


Be clear on your long-term goals and how your 2021 goals will align with that 5 year or even 10-year plan. Clarity of vision on your goals will make your plan easier to prepare and will keep you on track when you have to adapt due to unforeseen circumstances.

Budget – leave wiggle room

For many, Covid pushed the budget out of the window so for 2021, plan in an additional percentage onto your fixed expenses. This means you will generate a back-up fund should any surprise expenses occur. Make sure you include a cashflow forecast in your budget so that you know how long the cash will last or how much you can afford to invest. We often recommend that a business has 3 versions of the plan: the first wildly optimistic “this is what Great looks like,” the Second is the doomsday scenario, and the third is a realistic somewhere in the middle plan.  This will give you somewhere to aim for, and also a “how long can I last if things don’t go according to plan” check.

Re-assess your expenses

This means everything from software, marketing to office supplies, and insurance. There are great deals out there so don’t be afraid to re-negotiate or switch. In a bigger business, give different relevant people responsibility for reviewing each expense line to ensure that the people closest to the cost evaluate that cost.

Be cautious when forecasting

Err on the side of caution when predicting income and leave room to be wrong! Also, try saving a little each month. Many growing businesses will want to re-invest profit at every opportunity though you need a balance.  Holding a percentage back each month will soon see your emergency fund grow.  Make sure that you allow for quarterly and annual expenses such as VAT and Tax, keep these in a separate account if possible.

Break up the plan

Prepare your annual plan with a view to your long-term goals. Chunk it down into 90-day segments which can be further broken down into 3 months and even 13 weeks if appropriate.  When doing your 90-day plan, the devil is in the detail. Get clear on your goals, define what actions you need to take to achieve those goals, and assign an owner to each action.

Keep on top of the news

Sounds obvious, and as things are still changing quickly you need to stay on the ball when it comes to updates that relate to your business and your customers. Keep tabs on support available, tax relief, and other support from the government or governing bodies, etc. What was available back in the summer has evolved and changed, so keep looking as you may be now entitled to loans or support packages you weren’t before

Be willing to adapt

We’ve all had to change our way of working and this looks set to continue, what else can you change for the better? Can you try something new in your business, for example, a different product or delivery method?

Who knows what 2021 has in store for us? Being able to increase your emergency fund and being prepared to adapt further will create resilience in your business. If you’d like a one to one business resilience review you can request one herealternatively, you are most welcome to join us at one of our January business planning sessions.

Wishing you all a prosperous and stress-free 2021


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”  – Socrates.

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